Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa has expressed concerns that a segment of Nigeria supporters is more fixated on betting than rallying behind the national team, Soccernet.ng reports.
Speaking in Lagos during the unveiling of the team’s ‘Let’s Do It Again’ mantra, aimed at securing a fourth AFCON title in Ivory Coast next year, the former Leicester City star addressed the prevailing sentiment.
Musa emphasised that many Nigerian fans do not support the Super Eagles out of genuine passion for the game but rather due to their vested interests in betting activities.
Expressing his commitment to the nation, Musa acknowledged the pressures faced by his family when the Super Eagles experienced defeat. He emphasised the need for players to invest maximum effort on the pitch to shield their families from potential insults and criticism.
“I love this country and I know whenever we lose, I have a family back home; I know the pressure they face when we lose. When we are on the pitch, they say ‘na him mother be this, go insult am (this is his mother, insult her). So, I know I must put in everything I have so that people don’t insult my family,” Musa said.
“Nowadays, with the players we have in the team, none of them stay in Nigeria. They don’t know the anger that most of us, who have families in Nigeria, face when the team loses.”
Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar despite the best efforts of former NFF boss, Amaju Pinnick.
Commending the contributions of Pinnick in steering the team towards World Cup qualification, Musa acknowledged the financial toll on players due to the setback.
“He [Amaju Pinnick] did his best so that we qualified for the World Cup,” Musa added.
“We lost a lot of money and that is why most of our players right now are facing challenges because we failed to qualify for the  World Cup. So, we as players lost so much money.
“No matter where you are playing, you always go down into your corner to think when you lose money.”
The former Leicester City forward also provided insights into the impact of betting on fan sentiment, noting that criticisms directed at the team often stem from disgruntled bettors whose wagers are affected by match outcomes.
Musa lamented the shift in fan sentiment from genuine love and passion for the Super Eagles to the overshadowing influence of betting.
“Nowadays, I understand what football is and the anger of the fans,” Musa continued.
“Most of us don’t support Super Eagles because we like them, they will say, ‘hey dem don cut my ticket, give me my money’ (hey they’ve spoiled my ticket, refund my money).
“You will see on most of our DMs ‘you cut my ticket, you no sabi play’ (you spoiled my ticket, you don’t know how to play), it’s because they are bettors. Before, you will see the love and passion for the team but nowadays, betting has spoiled everything.”
With 108 appearances for the Super Eagles, Musa is Nigeria’s most-capped player of all time. The 31-year-old attacker was a member of Nigeria’s winning team at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.